My responses to Geraldine Hilton’s replies to my rebuttals of claims in her “Einstein’s Wife” documentary.

Allen Esterson

 

In response to my enumeration of errors and misleading statements in the documentary “Einstein’s Wife”, the writer/producer Geraldine Hilton submitted to the PBS Ombudsman a response that he has copied in an article on his website (scroll down to the end).

I provide below my comments on Hilton’s responses, but first a general point. At the beginning of the enumerated list of errors I clearly stated that the documentation for my statements can be found in the full critique posted on my website. Hilton’s responses (below in CAPITALS) indicate she has made no attempt to examine this documentation or address rebuttals of her claims; she merely repeats her assertions.

In each instance I start by quoting Hilton’s responses, which are prefaced by my enumerated statements in bold type.

 

On claims made in the “Einstein’s Wife” documentary:

1. Marić was not a "brilliant mathematician." IN UNDERTAKING STUDIES IN THEORETICAL PHYSICS MARIĆ, AS INDEED ANY STUDENT, HAD TO BE HIGHLY PROFICIENT IN MATHEMATICS AS ANY PHYSICIST WILL ATTEST. DESANKA Trbuhović-Gjurić, IN HER BIOGRAPHY OF MILEVA MARIĆ LOCATED MARIĆ'S HIGH SCHOOL RESULTS. DORD KRSTIĆ, ANOTHER BIOGRAPHER OF MARIĆ, CITES HER TRANSCRIPTS. SEE FOLLOWING:

[There follows a detailed report of Marić’s secondary school record, and information about the course she attended as a student at Zurich Polytechnic. A Google search shows that Hilton has simply copied her list straight from the Mileva Marić entry in Wikipedia – of which more below.]

Marić attended a four year course at Zurich Polytechnic (later ETH) for a diploma to teach mathematics and physics to secondary school teachers. To suppose that the theoretical elements in this course required a student to be a “brilliant mathematician” by the standards required for advanced mathematics illustrates Hilton’s profound ignorance of the subject. The Wikipedia entry that she has copied cites (correctly) Marić’s excellent school results in mathematics prior to attending Zurich Polytechnic. This demonstrates nothing more than that Marić was talented at that level of mathematics. Hilton has no conception of the fact that this is elementary mathematics from the point of view of academic mathematicians or theoretical physicists. Irrelevantly, Hilton copies from Wikipedia a list of the subjects studied by Marić in her second year as a student as if these are impressive. These are merely the standard topics that comprise any University course for mathematics and physics students.

Omitted from Hilton’s response are the significant facts that not only does the Marić/Einstein correspondence indicate that Marić struggled to master descriptive and projective geometry (letter, August/September 1899), her grade in the mathematics component (theory of functions) of the final diploma exam in 1900 was 5 on a scale 1-12, whereas Einstein achieved grade 11 and no other student in their group of five (the others specialising in mathematics) obtained lower than grade 11. It is almost certain that her poor grade in mathematics was the reason for her failing the 1900 exam (and again in 1901).

In the Wikipedia entry copied by Hilton is the following: “Back in Zurich: ‘Intensive collaboration between Mileva Marić, Albert Einstein, Marcel Grossmann, Michele Besso.’ (Michelmore 1968, p. 35, 36, 56).” Now this refers to Marić’s return from Heidelberg in 1898, hardly a stage when the students in question would have been studying advanced mathematics. But more important, not only is there no record of a 1968 edition of Michelmore’s book on Einstein, in his book (published in 1962) pages 35 and 36 mention respectively Grossman and Besso separately, in contexts that have nothing to do with their time at Zurich Polytechnic, and page 56 does not mention them at all! In fact nowhere in Michelemore’s book is there any mention of collaboration (intensive or otherwise!) between the four students. It has to be said that Hilton's uncritical copying of this material as if it constituted evidence is only too characteristic of her approach to ‘research’.

[N.B. As the reference to Michelmore’s biography in the Wikipedia entry for Mileva Marić is erroneous, I have deleted the item from that webpage, giving the explanation in the Wikipedia discussion page.]

I should add that, in any case, Michelmore’s book is not a reliable source of information, indeed quite the contrary, as I have demonstrated. See under the subheading “More direct evidence (allegedly)” in Who did Einstein’s Mathematics?: A Response to Troemel-Ploetz.

Hilton writes: DORD KRSTIĆ, ANOTHER BIOGRAPHER OF MARIĆ, CITES HER TRANSCRIPTS.

In his book Mileva and Albert Einstein: Their Love and Scientific Collaboration (2004) Krstić cites not a single document containing advanced mathematics that can be shown to have been authored by Marić. However, it is possible that the “transcripts” to which Hilton is alluding are the eight pages of notes in Marić’s handwriting found among Einstein’s notes that he prepared for his first academic post at Zurich University in 1909. These pages contain material on elementary mechanics that Marić would likely have studied in her first year at Zurich Polytechnic. This shows that she gave Einstein some assistance in the preparation of elementary University lecture notes at a time when he was under pressure to prepare his lectures while being very much involved with his own work in physics, as letters he was exchanging with other physicists at the time testify. Krstić makes the absurd claim that the eight pages “prove that at the time Mileva was active in the study of physics and that she scientifically collaborated with Albert” (2004, p. 142). This assertion gives an indication of the calibre of Krstić’s contentions throughout his book.

2. There is no evidence that Marić "collaborated with Einstein on his 1905 papers on Brownian Motion, Special Relativity and the photoelectric effect.” REFER BELOW.

I’ll take up the referral to items 22, 23, 24:

It is tiresome to have to keep repeating that Hilton has made no attempt to examine the detailed examination (and refutation) of such claims (in books by John Stachel, and articles by me), but again and again this is the case. All of the contentions made by Hilton immediately below have been refuted in detail, and here I can only briefly touch on these refutations.

(22). Marić did not work with Einstein on the E=mc2 1905 paper. WHY THEN DID EINSTEIN WRITE TO MARIĆ "'How happy and proud I will be, when we two together have victoriously led our work on relative motion to an end!' — Albert Einstein." EINSTEIN'S WORDS ARE EVIDENCE ALONE THAT THEY HAD ALREADY COMMENCED JOINT RESEARCH ON RELATIVE MOTION THEORY.

As John Stachel has argued, as have I, Einstein wrote that sentence in specific circumstances in a context in which, as always during their student period, he was hoping to draw Marić into his extra-curricular interests. Briefly (i) there are a dozen other instances when Einstein refers specifically to his work, his ideas on motion relative to the ether. (ii) the relevant Einstein letters were written in the period 1899-1901, when Einstein was still working on the basis of classical Galilean relativity (iii) the letter from which Hilton quotes was written in 1901, whereas Einstein did not arrive at his epoch-making special relativity principle until 1905.

(23). Abraham Joffe did not "cite both Albert's and Mileva's names on the original manuscripts" of 1905. ESTERSON ADMITS THAT "It is unusual that Joffe this one time happened to refer to Einstein by the name 'Einstein-Marity'!!! REFER BELOW #23.

First, I have not written anywhere that “It is unusual that Joffe this one time happened to refer to Einstein by the name ‘Einstein-Marity’.” Hilton is confusing me with Alberto Martinez. And despite her triumphant triple exclamation marks, she fails to mention that Martinez deals with this point in his article in the course of refuting the claims made in the documentary. See article here.

(24). The fragment of a page shown on the screen is not from the work the narrator claims. A. F. Joffe (also: Ioffe), "In Remembrance of Albert Einstein", Uspekhi Fizicheskikh Nauk, Volume 57, Number 2, (1955), p. 187. THE 'FRAGMENT' IN THE DOCUMENTARY IS FROM AN ARTICLE WRITTEN BY DANIL DANNIN, RUSSIAN AUTHOR WHO QUOTED DIRECTLY FROM ABRAM JOFFE'S OBITUARY ON ALBERT EINSTEIN IN 1955. THE QUOTE IS JOFFE'S. ABRAHAM F JOFFE, A MEMBER OF THE SOVIET ACADEMY OF SCIENCES, CLAIMED THAT HE SAW THE ORIGINAL PAPERS WHEN HE WAS AN ASSISTANT TO WILHELM RONTGEN WHO BELONGED TO THE EDITORIAL BOARD OF ANNALEN DER PHYSIK WHICH PUBLISHED THE ARTICLES. AN ARTICLE IN A 1955 SOVIET JOURNAL BY DANIL DANNIN QUOTES JOFFE, NOW DECEASED, AS ASCRIBING THE 1905 PAPERS TO 'EINSTEIN-MARITY' MELSA FILMS OBTAINED THE ORIGINAL MICROFICHE OF DANNIN'S ARTICLE AND HAD IT TRANSLATED. ESTERSON DOES NOT DISPUTE THE QUOTATION THAT THE NAMES 'EINSTEIN-MARITY' WERE SEEN BY JOFFE ON THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPTS SUBMITTED FOR PUBLICATION IN 1905. THEIR DISPUTE IS IN THE INTERPRETATION OF THE USE OF THE NAMES "EINSTEIN-MARITY." WE DISPUTE THEIR CLAIM PARTICULARLY WHEN EINSTEIN NEVER REFERRED TO HIMSELF AS EINSTEIN-MARITY IN LATER PUBLISHED WORKS. MARITY WAS MARIĆ'S HUNGARIANISED MAIDEN NAME. MELSA FILMS MAKES NO CLAIM AS TO WHY THE SPECIAL RELATIVITY PAPER WAS THEN PUBLISHED IN EINSTEIN'S NAME ALONE.

Hilton acknowledges that the fragment of microfilm shown in her film was by Danin. She fails to address the fact that her film deceived viewers into thinking that they were shown a fragment from Joffe’s book. Why does she not admit that in the film Danin’s name is not mentioned, and that viewers are (mis)led to believe that what they are seeing is by Joffe? Hilton writes that Danin quoted directly from Joffe’s obituary, and “the quote is Joffe’s”. It is bad enough that Hilton has failed to examine the documentation in the article linked to my enumerated list of errors; in addition she is evidently incapable of understanding articles she has seen (Martinez [2005] above). Martinez and Stachel (2005) have both documented that Danin misquoted Joffe’s 1995 statement (it is from Danin’s single misquotation that the rest is inferred). Joffe did not state that he saw the original papers. To imply that it doesn’t matter that viewers were shown a fragment from Danin, when what he wrote differs in one highly important detail from what Joffe wrote, is a measure of the unscholarly nature of Hilton’s approach, and of that of her adviser Senta Troemel-Ploetz who is the (secondary) source of the misrepresentations of what Joffe wrote. (The failure to say that the fragment was not actually by Joffe was not the only deception in this part of the documentary. The fragment from Danin showing the single name “Einstein-Marity” does not demonstrate what the film purported to show, though the cleverly arranged presentation ensured that viewers will have been misled into thinking that it had. See below.)

NOTE: Although Hilton cites the original publication by Joffe, in actuality she has directly copied the relevant part of her long statement above, starting from ABRAHAM F JOFFE …” through to “…AS ASCRIBING THE 1905 PAPERS TO 'EINSTEIN-MARITY', directly from Andrea Gabor’s book Einstein’s Wife: Work and Marriage in the Lives of Five Great Twentieth Century Women (1995, p. 20). (In order to tie the quote to the present discussion Hilton has interpolated the words “BY DANIL DANNIN”, thereby introducing an error, as that author’s statement was not published in 1955.) Gabor cites the biography of Marić by Desanka Trbuhović-Gjurić (Im Schatten Albert Einsteins: Das tragische Leben der Mileva Einstein-Marić, 1988 [first edition 1983, p. 79]) as her source. Gabor has simply reproduced Trbuhović-Gjurić’s grossly misleading report of what Joffe wrote, including her evidence-free speculations about the background circumstances. So we have Hilton copying Gabor, who in turn reproduces an erroneous passage by Trbuhović-Gjurić misleadingly purporting to report what Joffe wrote! It would be difficult to find a more blatant example of shoddy scholarship (on the part of all three writers). Schulmann and Holton have aptly described passages in the relevant chapter in Gabor’s book as “flights of journalistic fantasy”.

Bizarrely, Hilton writes “ESTERSON DOES NOT DISPUTE THE QUOTATION THAT THE NAMES 'EINSTEIN-MARITY' WERE SEEN BY JOFFE ON THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPTS SUBMITTED FOR PUBLICATION IN 1905.” This confusingly expressed sentence needs disentangling. First note that Hilton is manifestly in error when she refers in the plural to “Einstein-Marity”. That is a single name, and Joffe described him as “a bureaucrat at the Patent Office in Bern”, which can only mean Albert Einstein. Second, the words “the quotation that the names ‘Einstein-Marity’ were seen by Joffe on the original manuscripts” are ambiguous. If Hilton means the quotation from Joffe’s article, then what she writes is erroneous. If she means the quotation from Danin, then this is beside the point, since Danin misstates what Joffe wrote. To reiterate the crucial point: Joffe did not say he had seen the original manuscripts, nor that the 1905 papers were co-authored.

Hilton writes: “ABRAHAM F JOFFE, A MEMBER OF THE SOVIET ACADEMY OF SCIENCES, CLAIMED THAT HE SAW THE ORIGINAL PAPERS WHEN HE WAS AN ASSISTANT TO WILHELM RONTGEN WHO BELONGED TO THE EDITORIAL BOARD OF ANNALEN DER PHYSIK WHICH PUBLISHED THE ARTICLES.”

This is false through and through. Joffe says nothing like this. Hilton, following her consultant Senta Troemel-Ploetz (1990, p. 419), is citing the grossly misleading report in Desanka Trbuhović-Gjurić’s deeply flawed biography of Marić (1983, p. 79; 1991 [French trans.], pp. 111-112).

Hilton writes: WE DISPUTE THEIR CLAIM PARTICULARLY WHEN EINSTEIN NEVER REFERRED TO HIMSELF AS EINSTEIN-MARITY IN LATER PUBLISHED WORKS. MARITY WAS MARIĆ'S HUNGARIANISED MAIDEN NAME.

This is a complete non sequitur! It assumes that the issue is about what name Einstein referred to himself as. But all we have is a statement by Joffe in which he clearly assigns the authorship of the 1905 Brownian Motion, photon theory, and special relativity papers to a single author (“a bureaucrat at the Patent Office”), citing a single [hyphenated] name, which he apparently thought was the correct way to refer to the (at the time) Swiss resident Albert Einstein. All this has been examined in meticulous detail by John Stachel in Einstein’s Miraculous Year: Five Papers that Changed the Face of Physics (2005), pp. liv-lxiii, to which anyone genuinely interested in knowing the documentable facts should turn (rather than to story-spinning by individuals who have decided on the ‘facts’ on the basis of misleading second or third-hand reports by interested parties, and who evidently make no attempt to even read, let alone digest, the rebuttals of their claims).

3. The account of the discovery of the Einstein/Marić letters is "totally and unequivocally false" [Robert Schulmann]. THE DOCUMENTARY DREW ON THE ACCOUNT AS TOLD BY ROBERT SCHULMANN IN HIS INTERVIEW. IT WAS TRUNCATED FOR BREVITY'S SAKE.

Perhaps Hilton would like to explain how an account described as “totally and unequivocally false” by the person directly involved in the matter is rendered satisfactory by the statement that it was “truncated for brevity’s sake”!

4. The publication of the Einstein/Marić letters did not "rock the international scientific community." THIS IS TAKEN FROM NEWSPAPER REPORTS AT THE TIME OF THE DISCOVERY OF THE LOVE LETTERS. FOR EXAMPLE: The Boston Globe
OUT FROM THE SHADOWS OF 'GREAT' MEN Author: Ellen Goodman, Globe Staff
Date: Thursday, March 15, 1990 […]

I fear this illustrates the level of scholarship at which Hilton works: Reports in newspapers suffice to ‘prove’ her point.

5. Marić did not "specialise in theoretical physics." MARIĆ AND EINSTEIN WERE THE ONLY TWO STUDENTS WHO UNDERTOOK THEORETICAL PHYSICS IN THEIR DEGREE THAT YEAR. IT IS REASONABLE TO CONCLUDE THAT BEING THE CASE, THAT THEORETICAL PHYSICS HELD A SPECIAL INTEREST FOR BOTH OF THEM.

Einstein and Marić were studying for a diploma to teach mathematics and physics in secondary school. The physics part comprised the normal theoretical and experimental topics. They did not “specialise in theoretical physics”.

6. Lenard was not "one of the great pioneers of quantum physics." REFER BELOW. LENARD WAS STRONGLY ANTI-SEMITIC WHICH WE STRONGLY OPPOSE, HOWEVER, THIS DOES NOT DETRACT FROM HIS SCIENTIFIC WORK.

Ignoring the initial non sequitur, I’ll take up the referral to item 32 in the “website” list of her comments in her full response:

(32). Philipp Lenard was not "a pioneer in quantum physics." SEE FOLLOWING:

[Hilton proceeds to supply a very detailed listing of Lenard’s professional career which she has copied directly from the Lenard entry in Wikipedia.]

Hilton has wasted her time reproducing a history of Lenard’s work, since it does not include pioneering work on quantum physics!

7. Marić did not keep Einstein "abreast of" the "brave new world" of the photoelectric effect, etc. MARIĆ’S LETTER TO EINSTEIN DETAILS HER EXCITEMENT IN ATTENDING LENARD'S LECTURE. REFER TO WEBSITE REBUTTALS ON LENARD'S PIONEERING WORK ON PHOTOELECTRIC EFFECT.

Marić’s letter in question (late 1897, at the time of her semester spent at Heidelberg University) contains a brief, rather jocular, report on a lecture in which Lenard derived the speed of oxygen molecules. This has absolutely nothing to do with the photoelectric effect (concerning which the relevant experimental results were not obtained by Lenard until several years later). Hilton is not only completely ignorant of the subject matter on which she is commenting, she is evidently oblivious of her ignorance, which is far worse. (We know precisely when Einstein first came across Lenard’s initial experimental work on the photoelectric effect. In May 1901 he wrote to Marić: “I just read a wonderful paper by Lenard on the generation of cathode rays by ultraviolet light.”)

8. There is no evidence that Marić "cut classes" at Zurich Polytechnic. THERE ARE LETTERS WHICH SPEAK OF MARIĆ SPENDING LESS TIME ATTENDING LECTURES. ROBERT SCHULMANN STATES IN HIS INTERVIEW THAT SHE CUT CLASSES.

I am very familiar with the letters in question and know of no letters in which Marić writes of spending less time attending lectures. Hilton makes this assertion without providing citations.

Here is what Robert Schulmann said in the documentary:

 

“It’s well known that Einstein of course did not attend many courses but was able to use the notes from his good friend Marcel Grossman. And, my view of Mileva is that she was a much more orthodox student in that she did attend classes and, however successful or not, she took her coursework very seriously as she took everything very seriously.”

 

Clearly Schulmann did not state that Marić cut classes; on the contrary he emphasized that, unlike Einstein, she was an orthodox student who did attend classes.

 

Equally important is that Hilton’s response reveals she has a very limited notion of what is meant by scholarly research.  She evidently doesn’t understand that it is not a question of what I say, or of what Schulmann says, but whether the documentary record shows it to be the case. Hilton makes no attempt to justify her assertion by citing the documents that would demonstrate what she is contending, but cites someone (allegedly) saying it is the case.

9. Marić was not, with Einstein, "trying to solve the puzzles of the universe in mathematical form . . ." CAN ESTERSON PROVIDE EVIDENCE TO THE CONTRARY? REFER TO THEIR SON, HANS WHO SAW THEM WORKING TOGETHER AS WELL AS A STUDENT WHO LIVED WITH THEM.

I have provided rebuttals of the assertions in the second sentence, but Hilton is evidently not interested in reading the actual documentation of challenges to her claims. See:

http://www.esterson.org/einsteinwife1.htm

http://www.esterson.org/milevaMarić.htm

http://www.esterson.org/Who_Did_Einsteins_Mathematics.htm

 

Hans Albert was an infant or young boy at the time, so he cannot possibly have provided direct evidence that Marić was working with Einstein on advanced physics and mathematics. For the dubious evidential value of the other item Hilton cites (from a third-hand report by Trbuhović-Gjurić obtained some fifty years after the event) about the then-student Svetozar Varičak who lived with the Einsteins around 1912-1913, see http://www.esterson.org/milevaMarić.htm [See also below, item 25]

Hilton writes: CAN ESTERSON PROVIDE EVIDENCE TO THE CONTRARY? This question is scarcely deserving of a response. It is virtually impossible to prove a negative in relation to such an issue. It is up to those making the claims to provide genuine evidence (not hearsay third-hand statements from interested parties obtained many decades after the events in question).

10. Einstein did not "fail [his] final exams." A MARK OF FIVE WAS NEEDED AT THE TIME OF THEIR STUDIES TO PASS. EINSTEIN ACHIEVED 4.9.

It is absolutely extraordinary that Hilton repeatedly recycles undocumented and unsubstantiated assertions with no attempt to examine the rebuttals to them. Here she is simply repeated an unsubstantiated assertion made by Troemel-Ploetz, whose article on which much of Hilton’s case is based is replete with erroneous statements and dubious logic. See:

http://www.esterson.org/milevamaric.htm
http://www.esterson.org/Who_Did_Einsteins_Mathematics.htm

Troemel-Ploetz provides no evidence that the pass grade was 5, and Stachel has searched the archives of Zurich Polytechnic (ETH) and has found no evidence this was the case. (Incidentally, on the scale 1-6, with 1 effectively zero mark, Einstein’s average grade of 4.91 works out at approximately 78 percent, a reasonably creditable result by Einstein, especially in the light of the fact that he spent much of his time on his own personal research.)

11. The board of examiners did not "round Albert's mark to a pass." SEE ABOVE #10.

Since there is absolutely no evidence for Hilton’s assertion in item 10, the same applies to her response here.

12. Troemel-Ploetz's "explanation" for Marić's failure that "Einstein already has his diploma and she doesn't need one, one is enough in one family" is absurd, as they didn't marry until nearly three years later. THERE ARE NUMEROUS STUDIES AND PAPERS WHICH CONCLUDE THAT FEMALE UNDERGRADUATES, ACADEMICS, RESEARCHERS, WRITERS ETC., ARE PENALISED IN THEIR MARKS WHEN COMPARED TO MALE UNDERGRADUATES. BLINDFOLD STUDIES HAVE BEEN DONE WHERE STUDENTS SUBMIT WORK WITHOUT NAMES, WHICH WHEN RESUBMITTED WITH NAMES ATTACHED SHOWED WIDE VARIENCE IN MARKS WITH FEMALES SCORING FAR LESS THAN THEIR MALE COLLEAGUES IN THE BLIND SUBMISSION. IT WAS WELL KNOWN BEFORE THE END OF THEIR STUDIES, THAT MARIĆ AND EINSTEIN WERE LOVERS. IN CORRESPONDENCE TO EINSTEIN, MARIĆ STRONGLY INDICATED THAT SHE HAD A PERSONALITY CLASH WITH ONE OF HER LECTURERS. REFER STUDIES BY:

Steinpreis, R.E., Anders, K. A., & Ritzke, D. The impact of gender on the review of the curricula vitae of job applicants and tenure candidates: A National Empirical Study. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research Vol 41, Nos 7/8, 1999 pp509-528.

For Woman In Science, Slow Progress In Academia, Sara Reimer, New York Times April 15th, 2005.

[…] Etc, etc, etc.

Cathy Kessels and others mentioned Neal Koblitz's AWN newsletter article Are Student Ratings Unfair to Women?

 

Hilton’s response above must rank high in the non sequitur department. Virtually all of it fails to address the actual statement I made. The nearest to it is the following:

IT WAS WELL KNOWN BEFORE THE END OF THEIR STUDIES, THAT MARIĆ AND EINSTEIN WERE LOVERS.

That this was known among their friends is not evidence that their professors also had detailed knowledge about the personal lives of their students. (More exactly, Einstein and Marić were boy/girl friends. They did not becomes “lovers” in the modern sense until after they had taken their diploma final exams in 1900.) Hilton fails to address the fact that Troemel-Ploetz’s evidence-free speculation that the Conference of Examiners argued that “one [diploma] is enough in one family” is absurd, as they didn't marry until nearly three years later. How could the Examiners possibly know that a romantic relationship between fellow students would result in marriage some years down the line?

Hilton writes: IN CORRESPONDENCE TO EINSTEIN, MARIĆ STRONGLY INDICATED THAT SHE HAD A PERSONALITY CLASH WITH ONE OF HER LECTURERS.

The clash in question, with Prof Weber, did not occur until 1901, after Marić had failed in her first attempt for a diploma. In any case, Weber taught her experimental physics, the topic for which she obtained the highest grade in 1900! Her failure to obtain a diploma was the consequence of  her extremely poor grade in mathematics, not in any physics topic.

13. Einstein's personal research on physics did not depend on "Mileva's access and good standing with their professor [Weber] to keep their private research alive." THIS IS A BLATENTLY FALSE STATEMENT. EINSTEIN STATES IN ONE OF HIS LETTERS TO MILEVA THAT SHE MUST KEEP IN THE GOOD BOOKS WTH PROFESSOR WEBER WHO WAS SUPERVISING HER DOCTORATE BECAUSE THEY NEEDED THE USE OF HIS LABORATORY FOR THEIR OWN RESEARCH.

Far from my statement being false, Hilton’s reply only illustrates further her ignorance of the subject matter. Einstein needed the use of Weber’s laboratory for his Ph.D. thesis on thermal conductivity. (He wanted to obtain a Ph.D. to improve his career prospects.) This is distinct from his personal work on physics topics that really interested him (what I called his personal research), which was to lead to his celebrated papers of 1905. That he had access to Weber’s laboratory in 1901 made no difference to his private research, as is shown by the fact that he very soon ceased to study for his Ph.D. under Weber, but this in no way hindered the theoretical research he was working on.

The letter to which Hilton alludes (August/September 1900) does not, as she claims, say that they needed the use of the laboratory for “their” [sic] own private research. In that letter Einstein is clearly referring to Marić’s diploma dissertation (which she hoped to extend for a Ph.D. thesis) and to his own first attempt for a Ph.D. Both were on the subject of heat conduction, for which they wanted to use Weber’s well-equipped laboratory.

14. There are very many more instances of Einstein using "I" and "my" in relation to his extracurricular work in letters when they were students than of his use of "we" and "our." The relatively rare use of "our" sometimes referred to their co-operative study on their diploma dissertations, not Einstein's personal work on physics. Also, the Special Relativity theory was only arrived at by Einstein several years later. FALSE. MARIĆ AND EINSTEIN'S LETTERS TO EACH OTHER TALK ABOUT THE LATEST SCIENTIFIC BOOKS BEING READ BY THEM WHICH WERE NOT PART OF THEIR CURRICULUM.

No one disputes that Einstein and Marić read extra-curricular books together when they were students. Not only does that not show that Marić was producing ideas of her own on these topics (not one of her surviving letters has any such ideas, or references to work she is doing outside her Polytechnic coursework), it is a non-sequitur as a response to my statement about personal pronouns. And it is Einstein’s letters that “talk about” the latest scientific books, not Marić’s. The whole issue of Einstein’s use of personal pronouns in his letters of 1897-1901 in relation to his extra-curricular work is examined in meticulous detail in Stachel’s writings on the issue, as well as in my articles, and it is impossible here to go beyond the statement in heavy type immediately after the number “14” just above. It is, however, worth emphasizing that proponents of the “collaboration” thesis never mention that on several occasions when Einstein referred to physics using the first person plural he was alluding to work they were doing on heat conduction (which for both of them was the subject of their diploma dissertations), not to his extra-curricular interests.

See http://www.esterson.org/milevamaric.htm

15. Marić was not with Einstein when he inaugurated the "Olympia Academy" in 1902. THIS HAS NO BEARING ON THE FACT THAT MILEVA ATTENDED THESE WITH EINSTEIN WHEN SHE JOINED HIM SEVERAL MONTHS LATER. EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS FROM MAURICE SOLOVINE WHO ATTENDED THEM DETAILS HER ATTENDANCE.

No one, of course, suggests she didn’t attend the meetings, which were held at the Einsteins’ residence. I was merely pointing out a chronological error in the documentary which makes it seem that Marić was involved in the inaugurating of the “Olympia Academy”.

16. Solovine did not say of Marić that "she occasionally joined in." He said the opposite, that she listened but never contributed to the discussions. Solovine did not say of Marić that she was "clearly more interested in physics than housework." THESE WERE DIRECT QUOTES FROM DENIS OVERBYE IN HIS INTERVIEW BASED ON HIS BOOK "A SCIENTIFIC ROMANCE." SOLOVINE DID STATE "Mileva, intelligent and reserved, listened to us attentively."

Hilton’s response is absolutely extraordinary. First, she ignores the falsehood in the documentary that I am objecting to, and emphasizes something which no one take issue with. Second, she defends what was stated in the documentary on the grounds that Dennis Overbye told her! Does she know nothing about scholarly research? The only way to check the facts is to examine what Solovine actually wrote, which was that “Mileva, intelligent and reserved, listened attentively but never intervened in our discussions” (my emphasis). (Albert Einstein: Letters to Solovine, 1987, p. 13).

Incidentally, Solovine’s writing that Marić “never intervened in our discussions” suggests she was more an interested observer than a fully-fledged ‘member’ of the group. (In none of the later letters between the individuals concerned alluding to their meetings at that time is Marić mentioned as a participant.)

17. The evidence that "Mileva's father visits them shortly after the birth and offers Einstein a handsome dowry" is based on dubious third-hand reminiscences obtained decades later. WHY IS THE SOURCE WHO IS QUOTED AS SAYING THIS DUBIOUS? IS ESTERSON A SCIENCE HISTORIAN?

One does not have to be a “science historian” to assess the evidential value of third-hand reminiscences from interested parties obtained many decades after the event. See Martinez (2005) on Handling Evidence in History: The Case of Einstein’s Wife. (For my additional comments on the book by Desanka Trbuhović-Gjurić from which the alleged quotation is taken, see under item 18 immediately below.)

The dubious statements attributed to Einstein in Trbuhović-Gjurić’s book at the time of the supposed visit mentioned above suffices to cast doubt on the story, as I explain in my article http://www.esterson.org/einsteinwife1.htm, especially the final statement that I deal with at the very end of the article. (See item 28 below.)

18. There is no serious evidence that Einstein told Marić's father "I didn't marry her for money. I married her because I love her, because we are one. She is my guardian angel against the sins of life and especially so in the sciences." It is a fourth-hand report of reminiscences by an interested party obtained decades later. REFER TO Trbuhović-Gjurić, BIOGRAPHY.

It says everything we need to know about Hilton’s mode of ‘research’ that she thinks that a reference to Trbuhović-Gjurić’s book (which she no doubt obtained from Treomel-Ploetz’s 1990 article that uncritically recycles Trbuhović-Gjurić’s claims) in which the alleged quotation is given suffices to validate her position! I have closely examined relevant passages in this book and shown that it is utterly unreliable as a work of historical research. Likewise Schulmann and Holton call the book “a nationalist puffery of a biography of Mileva Marić”, and the Einstein biographer Albrecht Fölsing describes it as a combination of “fictional invention and pseudo-documentation”. See the discussion of the above alleged quotation in http://www.esterson.org/einsteinwife1.htm

See also the relevant sections on Trbuhović-Gjurić’s claims in general in

http://www.esterson.org/milevaMarić.htm

http://www.esterson.org/Who_Did_Einsteins_Mathematics.htm

19. The "Einsteins" did not submit five papers for publication in 1905. Einstein alone did that. IT WAS A COLLABORATIVE EFFORT. THE FACT THAT EINSTEIN'S NAME WAS ON THE PAPERS DOES NOT DISCOUNT MARIĆ'S CONTRIBUTION.

Hilton evidently thinks that in response to rebuttals based on a close examination of all the documents available (see my article cited above, plus the relevant Stachel citations therein) it suffices to simply repeat her claim.

20. Marić did not "review scientific papers." INCORRECT — SHE DID.

My response is the same as to Hilton’s assertion in (19) immediately above. See: http://www.esterson.org/einsteinwife1.htm (search for “reviews”)

21. There is no serious evidence that Marić told Einstein in private conversation: "This is a great achievement, a beautiful achievement." THE DOCUMENTARY'S SOURCE WAS Trbuhović-Gjurić biography on Mileva.

See my comments above (item 18) about Trbuhović-Gjurić’s deeply flawed biography.

22. Marić did not work with Einstein on the E=mc2 1905 paper. WHY THEN DID EINSTEIN WRITE TO MARIĆ "'How happy and proud I will be, when we two together have victoriously led our work on relative motion to an end!' — Albert Einstein." EINSTEIN'S WORDS ARE EVIDENCE ALONE THAT THEY HAD ALREADY COMMENCED JOINT RESEARCH ON RELATIVE MOTION THEORY.

I have already responded to this in item 2 above. I must, however, reiterate how tiresome it is debating with someone who makes no attempt to read rebuttals of her assertions, but merely repeats them as if they hadn’t been decisively refuted.

(The next items 22, 23, 24, have already been dealt with under related item 2 above.)

25. There is no serious evidence "they debated, calculated and read and write about science problems" at this time. AGAIN THE USE OF THE WORD 'SERIOUS' IS AN ATTEMPT TO DIMINISH WRITTEN EVIDENCE FROM PRIMARY SOURCE DOCUMENTATION SUCH AS LETTERS WHICH SPEAK ABOUT MARIĆ SPENDING ALL HER TIME WITH EINSTEIN WORKING TOGETHER. E.G. AND THIS IS IN 1910! "Svetozar Varičak, a student who lived with the Einsteins for several months in about 1910, remembered how Marić, after a day of cleaning, cooking and caring for the children, would then busy herself with Einstein's mathematical calculations, often working late into the night. Varičak said he remembered feeling 'so sorry for Mileva' that he sometimes helped her with the housework" Source: Trbuhović-Gjurić. ADDITIONALLY, "DURING THE EARLY YEARS OF THEIR MARRIAGE, WHICH ARE ALSO THE MOST PRODUCTIVE PERIOD OF EINSTEIN'S CAREER, EINSTEIN CREDITS MARIĆ WITH 'SOLVING ALL OF HIS MATHEMATICAL PROBLEMS,' A FACT CONFIRMED BY THEIR SON HANS ALBERT. SOURCE: DORD KRISTIC — INTERVIEW WITH HANS ALBERT EINSTEIN.

 

Hilton has a strange notion of what constitutes “primary source documentation”. She writes: “Svetozar Varičak, a student who lived with the Einsteins for several months in about 1910, remembered how Marić, after a day of cleaning, cooking and caring for the children, would then busy herself with Einstein's mathematical calculations, often working late into the night. Varičak said he remembered feeling ‘so sorry for Mileva’ that he sometimes helped her with the housework.”

Hilton gives the reference Trbuhović-Gjurić, but in fact this is a direct copying of a passage from the aforementioned chapter in the book by Andrea Gabor, Einstein’s Wife (1995, p. 20). For the passage in question Gabor cites the biography of Marić by Trbuhović-Gjurić (1988; first edition 1983, p. 79; 1991 [French trans.], p. 120]). However, Gabor does not accurately report what Trbuhović-Gjurić wrote, as she omits the fact that what Varičak supposedly recalled was actually a recollection by his daughter of her father reminiscing, obtained by Trbuhović-Gjurić more than fifty years after the alleged occurrences. Given that I have demonstrated that in several instances where the source of Trbuhović-Gjurić’s claims can be examined her accounts are unreliable, this means what we have here is a third-hand report of the alleged occurrences. Now recollections of conversations long after the event are notoriously unreliable, and we can have no idea of what Varičak actually told his daughter. This was at a time when Marić gave Einstein some limited help in preparing notes for elementary University lectures in physics, so even if we give some credence to such third-hand reporting, how can we know what Marić was working on? And finally, given Einstein’s exceptional abilities at conventional mathematics, and Marić’s extremely poor grades in the mathematics component of her Zurich Polytechnic diploma examinations, this kind of hearsay report lacks all credibility.

Hilton writes: DURING THE EARLY YEARS OF THEIR MARRIAGE, WHICH ARE ALSO THE MOST PRODUCTIVE PERIOD OF EINSTEIN'S CAREER, EINSTEIN CREDITS MARIĆ WITH 'SOLVING ALL OF HIS MATHEMATICAL PROBLEMS.'

Once again Hilton has copied this passage directly from Gabor’s deeply flawed chapter on Marić. Gabor does not give a citation for the claim that Einstein credits Marić with “solving all of his mathematical problems”, but in fact it comes once again from Trbuhović-Gjurić (1983, p. 75; 1991, p. 106). As I’ve said, given Einstein’s considerable abilities in conventional mathematics, and Marić’s very poor grades in the mathematics exams in both her failed attempts to obtain a diploma, this claim is inherently absurd. For my documentation of Einstein’s exceptional abilities in conventional mathematics, see http://www.esterson.org/Who_Did_Einsteins_Mathematics.htm

For the identification of the highly dubious source of the claim that Einstein credited Marić with solving all his mathematics problems, see http://www.esterson.org/milevamaric.htm

Hilton writes that the above claim is A FACT CONFIRMED BY THEIR SON HANS ALBERT. SOURCE: DORD KRISTIC — INTERVIEW WITH HANS ALBERT EINSTEIN.

Krstić interviewed Hans Albert Einstein in 1971 [E. R. Einstein, Hans Albert Einstein, 1991, p. 15], more than sixty years after the events in question, which occurred when Hans Albert was a very young boy. How could he possibly know what his parents were working on? As I have already noted, around the time in question Marić gave Einstein some limited assistance in preparing notes on elementary mechanics for his new teaching post at Zurich University the subject matter of which she would have covered early in her Zurich Polytechnic teaching diploma course.

Finally: With reference to Hilton’s (copied) claim that THE EARLY YEARS OF THEIR MARRIAGE [WERE] ALSO THE MOST PRODUCTIVE PERIOD OF EINSTEIN'S CAREER, the way that she repeats assertions by people as ignorant of the scientific subject matter as she is quite extraordinary. Einstein was exceptionally productive in a number of areas of physics up to well into his forties, most notably during the several years in which he was working on what is widely regarded as his greatest achievement, the general theory of relativity.

26. There is no evidence that Mileva Marić's "name was removed" as co-author from the 1905 papers, since it wasn't there in the first place. JOFFE SAID HE SAW THE NAMES 'EINSTEIN-MARITY' ON THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT. JOFFE WAS AND REMAINS A HIGHLY REGARDED SCIENTIST IN THE SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY.

Joffe made no reference whatsoever to the original manuscripts. Also, it shouldn’t need saying that “Einstein-Marity” is a single name, it does not comprise two “names” Einstein and Marity [Marić]. I have already dealt with this topic in some detail above.

27. There is not a scrap of evidence that Marić "actually prepares some of Einstein's [public] lectures." YES THERE IS. REF: DORD KRSTIĆ WHO HAS A COPY OF ONE OF EINSTEIN'S LECTURES WHICH IS WRITTEN IN MILEVA'S HAND.

The lecture in question is not one of Einstein’s public lectures (on advanced physics). A photograph of the first page of the notes in Marić’s hand (one of eight) in Krstić’s 2004 book (p. 143) confirms the statement in the Collected Papers (Vol. 3, p. 125) that they follow closely the first pages of Einstein’s first set of lecture notes that he prepared for an introductory course on mechanics at Zurich University, and that they are at a level such that a competent University physics student could have produced them. See http://www.esterson.org/milevaMarić.htm

28. The statement in the voice of "Einstein" at the end of the documentary, "Without her I would never have started my work, and certainly not finished it," is without foundation. It is also absurd, because at that time (1904 according to the narrator earlier in the film) Einstein had scarcely begun his work, and it is inconceivable that he would have said he'd "finished it." THESE OBJECTIONS ARE PLAINLY BIASED. THIS STATEMENT IS AN ALL ENCOMPASSING GRACE NOTE, NOT A LITERAL REFERENCE TO 1904. IT IS TAKEN FROM A FIRST HAND ACCOUNT BY THE Trbuhović-Gjurić, WHO INTERVIEWED MARIĆ'S RELATIVES WITH WHOM EINSTEIN STAYED ON HIS VISITS BACK TO NOVI SAD. ROBERT SHULMANN VISITED Trbuhović-Gjurić, WHEN SHE WAS GRAVELY ILL IN ZURICH SUCH WAS HIS STRONG BELIEF THAT SHE MAY HAVE CRITICAL INFORMATION WHICH MIGHT LEAD HIM TO THE WHEREABOUTS OF THE LONG LOST LOVE LETTERS.

This response of Hilton’s is, I’m afraid, only too typical of her replies to rebuttals to her contentions, lacking evidential backing and even basic logic. Trbuhović-Gjurić’s book has the sentence I quote above (in heavy type, “Without her…) at the end of a little speech that, according to earlier in the documentary, Einstein made to Marić’s father in Bern soon after the birth of Hans Albert (1904). How can it then not be “a literal reference to 1904”? Is Hilton saying that the earlier information, with the setting being soon after the birth of Hans Albert, is not in fact about something said in 1904? If that is the case, the earlier information in the documentary is unreliable according to Hilton herself. And if the alleged speech was at the time the documentary claims, then how can it be “an all encompassing grace note”? (Whatever that expression may mean – I’ve seen many examples of obfuscation, but that must surely top the lot.) Even if the alleged statement had been made on the occasion of a visit by Marić’s father to Einstein a year or so after 1904, (for which there is absolutely no evidence), it would still be absurd to suppose that Einstein would have spoken about having “finished” his work, which was still barely past its first great achievements.

Hilton writes: IT IS TAKEN FROM A FIRST HAND ACCOUNT BY Trbuhović-Gjurić, WHO INTERVIEWED MARIĆ'S RELATIVES WITH WHOM EINSTEIN STAYED ON HIS VISITS BACK TO NOVI SAD.

Hilton seems to have little idea of the meaning of a “first hand account”. Since the speech was allegedly made to Marić’s father Miloš (who died in 1922) on a visit to the Einsteins in Bern, how could there have been first hand accounts obtained by Trbuhović-Gjurić during her research in the 1960s? In fact Trbuhović-Gjurić cites for the source of the quotation a 1929 interview, published in a Belgrade newspaper, with a friend of Marić’s, Milana Bota-Stefanović (1983, p. 76; 1991, p. 107). It is stated to be about an (alleged) visit by Marić’s father to the couple in Bern in 1904, but as Bota-Stefanović was not in contact with Marić during the whole period in question (see letters from Marić to Helene Kaufler: May-June 1901, June 1904, December 1906, December 1912, summer 1917; Maric mentions one or two letters after 1920, but there was mostly no contact at all: letters 1922, 1924, 1928, 1930), one is left wondering where she got the alleged quotation from, or how she could possibly have recalled hearsay information with remotely the precision quoted by Trbuhović-Gjurić. Again, the final sentence [see the quoted sentence in heavy type immediately after the number 28 above] is integral to the whole, and given its logical absurdity, the whole must be called into doubt. Finally, one should also take into account that Bota was strongly antagonistic towards Einstein, in one letter to her mother in 1900 referring to him as “the German, whom I hate”.

* Without actually quoting the alleged “speech” by Einstein to his father-in-law, Dord Krstić (2004, p. 104, n.231) writes that his source for the information about it is Sofija Golubović, whom he interviewed in 1961. Supposedly Miloš Marić, on his return to his home in Novi Sad, told his family and friends the words that Einstein had used on the occasion of this alleged visit to Bern after the birth of Hans Albert in May 1904. So we have Miloš Marić reporting Einstein’s words from memory, and some fifty years later Krstić gets a report of Miloš’s account from a friend of the Marić’s. Such a report of Einstein’s (alleged) words, and even the authenticity of such a distant memory, cannot be regarded as remotely reliable. In fact there seems to be no documented record of Miloš Marić visiting the Einsteins in Bern in 1904, and an historical account of these years by two academics at the University of Bern makes no mention of such a visit. On the contrary, they write: “In the late summer of 1905 the Einsteins travelled to Novi Sad to introduce their son Hans Albert to his grandparents” (my emphasis). (A. M. Hentschel and G. Graβhoff, Albert Einstein: “Those Happy Bernese Years”, 2005, p. 131.)

Hilton writes: ROBERT SHULMANN VISITED Trbuhović-Gjurić, WHEN SHE WAS GRAVELY ILL IN ZURICH SUCH WAS HIS STRONG BELIEF THAT SHE MAY HAVE CRITICAL INFORMATION WHICH MIGHT LEAD HIM TO THE WHEREABOUTS OF THE LONG LOST LOVE LETTERS.

What this statement is doing here is puzzling, as it has no relevance to the point at issue – unless Hilton thinks that because Schulmann thought he might get information from Trbuhović-Gjurić about some very specific documents this somehow gives credence to Trbuhović-Gjurić’s writings. If so, this is another of her non sequiturs. Hilton’s statement implies this was the sole reason for Schulmann’s visiting Trbuhović-Gjurić, but he reports that he tried to get information about her story about the Joffe claims. According to Schulmann, on this issue “She gave me what I can only call charitably an extremely weak explanation” (A. Pais, 1994, p. 15). (The facts about how Schulmann was instrumental in bringing the Einstein/Marić correspondence to light, having discovered that they were in the possession of the Hans Albert Einstein family, are reported in Highfield & Carter (1993), pp. 279-281.)

 

Final Summing Up:

Hilton has not justified a single one of her claims highlighted above. Her responses illustrate that she has little notion of what is meant by scholarly research, or indeed, at times even what constitutes a logical argument.

 

December 2006

http://www.esterson.org/